Soon: Chapters 32-33: De Plane, De Plane!!!

Since I am a sad single panda this Valentine’s Day, I shall do an even sadder panda post on Paul’s sad attempts to be a useful spy, and Barton’s sad attempt to be a litterbug.

ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGED over the MASSACRE (not holocaust), Paul pulls up his big boy hero pants and…drives back to Tiny Allendo’s house for a poolside celebratory dinner.

I could very easily forgive this if Paul was trying to make up for his earlier foolish revelations of his own feelings, and was attempting to get back into Ranold’s good graces.  But no, Paul is sulky and irritable as always, moping about while everyone else eats, drinks, and is merry.

…it was clear that only Paul had a problem with what had gone on that day.  Ranold was right.  America was proud of them.

Well, duh.

Tiny had invited many friends and movie-business associates, all of whom crowded around Chief Balaam, who looked like the blade of a knife in a silver gown.

I assume this is meant to make Bia sound unfeminine and inhuman again, but to me it makes Bia sound awesome, like a woman who knows herself, knows her coloring and body type and what looks good on her.

The party sounds like a blast, with the vino flowing like Tiny’s monstrosity of a fountain, except for this bit:

…the piece de resistance among the hors d-oeuvres was live sushi, small golden fish that darted through a trough down the middle of the table, which the bravest caught with tiny spears.  Paul was horrified.

Okay, okay, I see that.  I typed in “live sushi” at YouTube and was fairly horrified myself.  But it’s not like this is something that the evil Atheistopians made up.  The whole trough thing just seems like the newest Rich Folks’ fad.  And since Paul is morally stricken by a frakking fountain, I am not impressed by his outrage.

Bia Balaam appeared at his side, spear in hand.  “Caught one yet?”

“No,” Paul said.  “Can’t say that I’ve tried.”

“Maybe it’s the sport you don’t care for.”

“Spearing fish in a trough doesn’t seem sporting to me.”

Hee.  Reminds me of Dave Barry’s theory that we should make hunting more sporting by arming the deer with rifles.

Hell, Paul, it’s not sporting to catch fish with a net or kill cattle in a slaughterhouse, but you said in San Francisco that you loved both steak and fish.  I could understand if you didn’t like this because of the extra cruelty involved, but unsporting seems the wrong word.

“You seem very scrupulous, Dr. Stepola.”

DANGER DANGER DANGER

She is on to you, Paul!  Quick, say something Atheistopian!

“I try to do what’s right, Agent Balaam.”

“I’m sure you do.  But what counts most is the ability to do what’s necessary.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Oh yeah, you totally burned her there, Paul.

“I hope you do.  And please also keep in mind that I am Chief Balaam.”

OH SNAP

Okay, Bia won that round, hands down.  We gotta give her that.

But never mind that.  Because it’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s…

A plane.

Barton’s plane drops the leaflets, according to plan, and CHAOS ERUPTS.

Well, more like mild confusion:

Some guests shrieked.  Others caught the flyers and read their messages aloud.  They cited miracles, warning of the coming judgment and offering salvation through Christ.

So, we have startled and amused so far…

Red-faced, Balaam demanded a phone.

I guess she was so surprised by the tracts that she momentarily forgot that SHE HAS A PHONE IN HER SKULL.

Ranold shook his fist at the sky, bellowing drunked threats.

Well, hell, at least they’re both doing something.

To hide his feelings, Paul strolled to the fountain.

“And what was Dr. Stepola doing during this crisis, Agent Balaam?”

“Well, he was wandering around calmly.  It was as if he knew what was happening, as if he didn’t care to do anything about it…”

And a plan came to him–a plan so clear and complete that he believed it was from God Himself.

This evening, I had a plan, too: to have a glass of wine, watch a movie, and write a critique of another section of Soon.  This plan was so clear and complete that it must have been from Gawd Hirself.

And now I have fulfilled that glorious plan!

Next time: What Happened to Barton

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Posted on February 14, 2012, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. “A plan so clear and complete it must have come from God.”

    Hrrrmmmm…. Hasn’t JK Rowling been quoted as saying the character of Harry Potter just came to her, pretty much complete, one day? (Or maybe it was even the whole story.) Does that mean it must have come from God?

    Oh, that’s right. This is PAUL. If *he* had a decent idea just appear, fully fleshed out, in his head – yeah, somebody probably planted it there, because it’s not like his brain has any practice coming up with good ideas. That assumes, of course, that this plan is a good idea. If it’s lousy, we’re back to it coming from Paul.

  2. Not about to look it up on youtube myself, but is this ‘live sushi’ thing a crueler way to kill fish than the regular method of catching them in large nets, dragging them up and waiting till they suffocate?

    I like how previously, even the narration calls her Chief Balaam, then Paul calls her Agent and she corrects him back to Chief. I’m sure this is supposed to be the return of uppity Vera, but Jenkins wrote it such that it really does look like Paul was intentionally trying to insult her, and Bia rightfully calling him out on it.

    So… since the fishermen insisted on using a hand-press instead of a printer because there’s might not be electricity later and new converts might somehow find their base of operations and then they might not be able to print new tracts (first time ever an RTC seems to be make plans for those actually Left Behind after the Rapture, shame it’s such a stupid one. Couldn’t they just make a whole stack of tracts about the Tribulation miracles now? I mean, since all those miracles are so perfectly predicted by the Bible anyway, they already know everything right?) there’s no way they’ve been able to make a planeload of new tracts in the few hours since the latest attack. The one they’re dropping now is still about the holocaust of five victims. This shouldn’t be hard to spin for Atheistopia. They’ve proven that indeed those five had a lot of helpers, and that while one cell tried spreading propaganda, the other 200 were preparing their armed insurrection. Also, since there are clearly still zealots around, the army will regretably have to remain in LA for a while longer to put down the last remnants.

    Do we get to hear what this awesome plan is? Is it “I’m going to spread the word of Christ to teach people they’re all horrible human beings and that they should ask their would-be torturer if he will forgive them for being as flawed as he made them?” Given the context of seeing the flyers and their effect (Ranold actually shaking his fist at the sky? Jenkins really made his villains into cartoons, didn’t he? “I’ll get you next time, Jesus! Next time!” “Mraaoww!”), that would seem to be the plan. Hey what a coincidence, it’s exactly what RTCs are doing now. Hey what a coincidence, that’s exactly what RTCs in this futuristic story were doing in the past before the rise of Atheistopia, and given the state of the world we can see how well that worked out the first time around.

    • Love the Inspector Gadget reference, by the way. X-D

      Funnily, it just occurred to me that Paul is as silly a buffoon as Gadget is, but at least Gadget has these saving graces:

      1. He’s chasing equally incompetent villainous characters.
      2. Penny and Brain back him up 100% and make sure he gets all the credit.
      3. He’s not an asshat.

      Doctor Apostle (oh, god. I can’t believe he actually has a doctorate! GTFO my intended degree, Stepola!) is an incompetent useless jackass who’s going to rebel against very competent opponents, and his backup’s equally useless and cartoony as he is.

      If Stepola was in Inspector Gadget, he’d be the cackling villain who thinks his Rube Goldberg plot will work, only to be foiled by Brain snipping one cable somewhere.

  3. Of course Bia forgets she has a phone in her skull. The author keeps forgetting, so why should she remember?

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think this would be much funnier if they used flash paper. You get ten seconds to read the tract, then it catches fire and burns down your house. Urban renewal!

    Enid Blyton claimed that all her stories came directly from God. Until I read that I hadn’t realised God had so little imagination.

    • Well, yes, that’s one explanation of why Bia forgot her skull phone. Another explanation would be that these skull phones are designed not to transmit when alcohol is detected in the blood. That way, nobody can drunkenly call up their boss, their boss’ spouse, the Atheistophian president etc and declare their undying love / tell them in sordid detail about what they’d like to do to the recipient’s body / tell them all about their secret underground cell etc. It would be a thoroughly sensible Atheistopian precaution that would provide the writers with a handy excuse for forgetting about the skull phones.
      That’s assuming that the writers even notice that they’ve forgotten….

  4. Maybe Paul would be less squeamish about spearing the helpless live sushi if he remembered they were atheist fish.

  5. Actually, we’ve all gone into the ineptitude of the details of the 200 man massacre, but I’m struck by another question now: What did it accomplish narratively? There was a raid that killed 5 zealots. Bia apparently led that raid, Ranold backs up her self-defense story, Straight called Paul to tell him he should be pissed about it because they were unarmed, Paul gets pissed. It was stupid for a number of reasons, but it served some narrative purpose in getting Paul to find the fishermen and, outraged as he was by the recent holocaust he became their inspirition to… do what they had already been planning to do for months… but now to defeat the army but instead of for shits ‘n giggles… okay, so the narrative purpose was a bit screwed up even there, but at least it made things all about Paul again, so mission accomplished as far as Jenkins is concerned.

    But this second raid? What did it accomplish? The exact same thing happened here. Bia leads, Ranold backs her up, Straight calls Paul and tells they were unarmed, Paul acts like a petulant child when he should be acting like a cool double agent. But nothing new is accomplished. Neither the fishermen nor Paul seem to have modified the plan they already had. Even the much higher, no-survivors body count means little since Paul considered the 5 dead from before already a Holocaust.

    So what was the purpose? Nothing has changed for Paul, nothing has changed for the other characters (Straight was already pissed, the fishermen were already spreading flyers, Bia and Ranold mistrusted Paul), and we don’t even get to see a new evil side of Atheistopia, like legal gay marriage leading to rejecting a proposal from a gay man being treated as a hate-crime worthy of 6 to 10 years, because the exact same crime was committed 2 chapters ago. Only the body count has changed, and if Jenkins wants that so desperately he could’ve upped the body count of the first raid a bit.

  6. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Some guests shrieked. Others caught the flyers and read their messages aloud. They cited miracles, warning of the coming judgment and offering salvation through Christ.

    Typical Jenkins “You Are There” detail. Right up there with “Steaming Piles of Fresh Produce, Drenched in Butter.”

  7. Flash fic — thanks to Mrs. Grimble for one of the plot devices. 😀

    Some guests shrieked as poorly cut, sharp-edged flyers rained down on them, threatening to slice faces and jab eyes. Others caught the flyers and read their messages aloud. Or rather, tried to read them out loud. Some started laughing too hard to speak; some were too stunned to. A few gave way to rage. Ranold shook his fists at the sky, bellowing, “You religious bastards! Too cowardly for poisonous gas this time? Oh, I remember you! In the name of your gods you tried to wipe us out and then dared to make yourselves out to be the victims when we defended ourselves! Good men died that night – better men than you! Travis and Ben and Jaleel were better men than you! Do you hear me? Come back and fight like human beings instead of sniveling worms!”

    “DOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!” pronounced one young man in a dark purple shirt, grinning. His listeners snickered. “All who sin are DOOOOOOMED!”

    “DOOOOOOMED!” repeated a few of the older listeners around giggles. They promptly launched into the blackly comedic chorus from “Apocalypse Last Night,” the last line of which was, appropriately enough, “doom doom doom doom dooooooooomed!”

    Bia rolled her eyes – she’d heard that song so many times during the Reconstruction that she’d grown jaded towards its jaded outlook before she hit college – and gingerly plucked a sopping wet flyer out of the nearest sushi trough. The cheap ink bled before her eyes, but not before she made out the message:

    For a brief moment Bia’s mind went utterly blank at the audacity of such pronouncements. She simply couldn’t accept what her eyes told her. Then common sense reasserted itself. This was a criminal attack. A bloodless one, but one that had to be stopped.

    Bia ground her molars together to call her superior. Nothing happened. She tried again. Nothing. She was half a second away from activating the Emergency Line at her temple when she remembered the Alcohol Inhibition Chip she’d had added to her craniophone. They were shockingly expensive, but for a person in Bia’s position, they were more necessity than luxury. One slip of the lip while under the influence could destroy a year’s worth of planning. But, like the child-proof locks of her parents’ day, safety came with its inconveniences. Now was one of them. Why, why, hadn’t she allowed herself a little leeway – gone with the .1 chip instead of the .00? She didn’t have an hour to wait until her bloodstream of free enough of alcohol to let her dial again, and calling the Emergency Line when there was no immediate threat to life carried heavy fines.

    Sharply, she glanced around for someone sober and trustworthy enough to call the authorities. She spotted Paul, by himself, at the fountain. Well . . . any port in a storm. Bia took a single step towards him, and stopped.

    It was that odd little smile that stopped her. A smile of . . . smug satisfaction? What? Her eyes widened when he glanced towards the now-empty sky and gave a little salute. Oh.

    “Phone!” she screeched. “I need a phone!” This was a criminal attack on her turf, and she had a suspected collaborator on the premises. Appearances and dignity be damned. “Someone get me a phone now!”

  8. I’m having trouble putting this timeline together. Maybe it’s just me.

    So Paul heads off to the port in the morning. Meanwhile, the army confronts the Christians and carries out the MASSACRE. Paul goes off to have lunch, when Straight tells him about the MASSACRE. Paul heads off to the site of the MASSACRE, and meets with Bia and Ranold.

    By this point we’re probably into the early afternoon, about 1:00 pm or so. The army still needs to do a site cleanup, debriefing/after-action reports. Once all that is covered, which would probably be sometime around 5:00 or so at the earliest, I’d guess, they can tell Tiny about it. Tiny puts together the party, which would start at the earliest 7:00. Then they have time to eat, party, and get Ranold, the evil boozy atheist, drunk. So at this point, we can’t be talking earlier than 9:00 when the fliers start falling.

    Are they dropping these tracts… in the dark?

    • Luminous paper would be pretty neat.

    • Ah no, no glow in the dark papers! Those might be hard to get after the Rapture, so we can’t use them now.

    • Paul left quite early in the morning, “not yet six.” And the massacre happened at noon. So your timeline is pretty damn good. 😀

      I don’t live in CA, but ’round these parts, it stays light until 9 p.m. or later in the summer. So, since it’s late June, would it be possible that it was light out when the plane took off, or at most, dusk-ish?

    • So UGoogle’s first reply tells me that by 9:00 PM in Los Angeles, on the summer solstice it is dark. Not only that, but everyone’s probably inside, going to, or ready for bed.

      So they’ve decided to:
      1) litter
      2) with illegal propaganda
      3) that smells like rotting fish
      4) that looks like low-quality hand-pressed crap
      5) by an easily traceable means
      6) in an unsafe manner
      7) that is very, very illegal
      8) on a massive scale
      9) in the dark
      10) when everyone’s inside

      Why didn’t they just leave them behind as restaurant tips like normal asshole Christians? It’s not like they need a plane, Tim LaHaye isn’t involved in this book!

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